The scene was set for a finish of dramatic proportions on Sunday night as the San Francisco 49ers came in to storied Lambeau Field to face Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Analysts had said the game on the frozen tundra of Green Bay would ultimately spell doom for the Niners QB Colin Kaepernick as the frigid temperature would hamper the passing attack of San Francisco, and that was somewhat true early on.
An inspired Green Bay defense played some of the best defense it has played the entire season. But Aaron Rodgers appeared to be the one who was affected by the subzero wind chill factor. The Green Bay offense started slow as the Niners dominated the ball for much of the first quarter, scoring on field goals twice in the quarter.
Rodgers, who returned from a seven-game absence to lead the Packers over the Chicago Bears in Week 17 to get to the playoffs, finished with a pedestrian 177 yards passing and a touchdown on 17-26 passing. However, it was Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy who kept the San Francisco defenders honest with 81 yards rushing while WR Jordy Nelson finished with 62 yards and a touchdown.
Though the Niners would march up and down the field with relative ease throughout the game, thanks in large part to timely catches from WR Michael Crabtree who would finish with 7 catches for 125 yards, the Green Bay defense would stiffen repeatedly between the 30s. The Niners would have to settle for three field goals in those instances. That kept the game closer than it otherwise should have been.
Aaron Rodgers would get hot in the second half and would toss a scoring strike to John Kuhn early in the 4th quarter. But the Packers would fail to score after a Mason Crosby field goal late in the 4th quarter. The game was tied at 20-20 and it looked like the Packers might be on the verge of pulling out a late victory with a defensive stop. However, as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Niners defender Ahmad Brooks and NaVorro Bowman performed as advertised with 2 sacks and 10 solo tackles, respectively.
Colin Kaeprnick would respond with an 11 yard scramble to the Green Bay 27 yard line with 1:13 left in the game. Four consecutive runs by Frank Gore would set up the game-winning field goal for kicker Phil Dawson from 33 yards out, and he would nail it in the face of a surge of Green Bay defenders as time expired. Kaepernick would finish with 227 yards passing, a TD and an INT to go along with 97 yards on just 7 carries. Legends are made in the playoffs and Colin seemed to be well aware of that adage as he performed admirably in the face of a prepared and confident foe. The San Francisco 49ers will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton next week.